Capstone Project Topic Selection and Approval
Childhood obesity is a relatively common condition among the United States’ population. This condition is characterized by excessive amounts of weight, which affects the health and well-being of children (Kelsey et al., 2014). As methods to determine the exact amount of body fat percentage are limited, there body mass index (BMI) is used as the measure to determine whether children are overweight or obese. The BMI represents the ratio of weight to height. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person is considered to be obese if their BMI is greater than or equal to the 95th percentile (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). While obesity is a problem that affects all population demographics, childhood obesity has some additional effects because of the vulnerability of the affected population.
Childhood Obesity in America
Obesity is one of the popular health issues that affects children in the U.S. it is estimated that one in every three children in America is above the recommended weight. The prevalence of obesity among children in America has tripled during the last three decades (Cunningham, Kramer & Narayan, 2014). The American Heart Association rates childhood obesity as the number one health concerns that parents should be worried about. This problem is rated worse than smoking and alcohol consumption.
According to CDC’s obesity statistics results, the rate of obesity among children increases with age. Between 2011 and 2014, the rate of childhood obesity among children between 2 and 5 years old decreased significantly. The prevalence of obesity among this age group is currently 8.9%. Childhood obesity among children from 6 to 11 years old affects 17.5% of children in America. The older children are at the highest risk with a 20.5% prevalence rate among the children between 11 and 19 years (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013).
Studies have shown that childhood obesity is more prevalent among the minority communities. For instance, the prevalence of obesity is higher among the Hispanic and African-American communities compared to the Caucasian communities (Van Grouw & Volpe, 2013). The prevalence of childhood obesity is also likely to be higher among the lower socio-economic groups.
Impact of Childhood Obesity
Obesity has health, social, emotional, and psychological impacts on the affected children. Obesity has caused the development of some health concerns in children that were previously just found among the adults. For instance, health issues such as Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and elevated blood cholesterol are currently very common among the children’s population (Ogden et al., 2014). These are health issues that were common among the adult population and almost non-existent among the children.
Obesity also has some negative psychological impacts among the children such a negative body image, low-self-esteem, anxiety issues, and depression (Reilly & Kelly, 2011). The commonly desirable body standard in the society is that of a slim person. Therefore, children with excess body weight tend to go through psychological issues trying to meet the society’s standards of the acceptable body image.
These children may also go through social and emotional distress because of the higher chance of them being bullied by their peers in school. Studies have shown that children who are obese tend to undergo discrimination even in their home environment. The bullying, discrimination, and stereotyping may lead them to be emotionally distressed, which can lead to psychological problems that affect them even much later in their lives.
Significance of the Problem
Childhood obesity is a big health problem that needs a lot of attention to be solved. The rate of obesity among children is increasing and is likely to increase further in the future because of the changes in children’s lifestyles. Due to the development of technology, the nature of children’s recreational activities has changed. In the past, most children’s recreational activities were outdoor games. However, technology has caused the development of activities such as video games and films which make children spend most of their time indoors doing minimal physical activities. An increase in the obesity prevalence rate brings about an increase in the numerous health issues related to weight. Therefore, the children may continue to have deteriorated health. Therefore, this problem needs a lot of attention not only by the parents but also the government, healthcare professionals and the communities. Studying this topic is significant because it helps to point out the extent of the problem and determine some steps that can be taken to reduce obesity among children.
Proposed Solution to Childhood Obesity
The solution to childhood obesity is the implementation of initiatives to prevent unhealthy weight gain and to manage the weight for children who already have excess weight. There needs to be education initiatives that will encourage parents to promote a healthy lifestyle for their children. Children need to have healthy diets and engage in physical activity as often as possible. A healthy lifestyle can be promoted both in the school and the home environment. At school there should be rules and regulations that promote healthy lifestyles such as compulsory participation in sports and regulated sale of unhealthy food options (Hanks, Just & Wansink, 2013). At home, the parents should be able to control the types of foods and food portions that their children have. They should also promote participation in physical activity to promote metabolism and avoid gaining of unhealthy weight.
In the medical setting, there isn’t much that can be done to improve the issue of childhood obesity. There are no medications currently approved for use in childhood obesity in America. In fact, the American Association of Pediatrics discourages use of medication to control children’s weight. However, healthcare professionals can participate in education of parents to promote healthier lifestyles (Bleich et al., 2013).